Kings XI Punjab has built a strong squad for the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) by buying some key players at the mega-auctions held in January.
With a heavier purse than most of the franchises, the KXIP think tank took the other franchise owners by surprise with their aggressive approach at the auctions. While Punjab bought some big players in Ravichandran Ashwin, Aaron Finch, KL Rahul and Andrew Tye, they also strengthened their squad by roping in two world-class left-handers in Yuvraj Singh and Chris Gayle.
However, while speaking to Times Now, the CEO of KXIP, Satish Menon revealed that buying Yuvraj Singh in the IPL 2018 auctions was pre-planned.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Kings XI Punjab was one of the most active franchises at IPL 2018 auctions. Your thoughts on that?
I think we spent a lot of time working at analytics. We were completely ready for the auctions as a result of the groundwork. If we missed out on one or two players, we made up by matching it accordingly. While initially, we were hoping to get at least 50 percent of players who were on our list, we ended up with 60-70% of the players we wanted. Whether it was Andrew Tye, or R Ashwin, Yuvraj Singh or even Chris Gayle, we are happy with the players we have in our squad. Gayle was not on the list of the core players we wanted, but we bought him towards the end.
The aggressive bidding by KXIP think tank seemed to have taken other franchise owners by surprise. Was it a strategy going into the auctions?
Well, the strategy was simple, have a set of alternatives and set a threshold at each level, but we were definitely looking to get a team which was balanced. We needed a particular set of batsmen as well as bowlers. We were looking for two to three big hitters. While we may have lost on someone like Hashim Amla, we made up for the loss by buying Karun Nair – who is much younger and capable of staying on the wicket longer.
Amla slammed a brilliant century against Mumbai Indians last season and was one of the key batsmen for Punjab. Was there any particular reason as to why he wasn’t retained?
We had other options available as well. Like Gayle was high on popularity. But Amla wasn’t our first option. Maybe the second, third or fourth option.
What was the biggest takeaway for you from the IPL 2018 auctions? Also, what was your biggest regret?
That going into the auctions, it’s the preparation which matters. Next year, you would see us investing more in youth. One thing which everybody needs to understand is like most other franchises, we did not have too many retentions. So, we also wanted to build a team around senior players. My regret would be that maybe we could not buy too many young players, like members of India’s U-19 squad.
While announcing the name of new KXIP skipper, Virender Sehwag revealed that Yuvraj Singh was also in contention. Going by the fans, he was clearly the favourite to become the next captain. Can you shed some light on why the management went for Ashwin, not Yuvi?
Yuvraj is such an integral part of the squad and he is someone we always wanted. We need him to be able to have the freedom he needs to go out and play the explosive brand of cricket that he is known for. The management is certain that Ashwin would make a great captain and we’re happy with our decision.
While some of the biggest names were roped in by KXIP at IPL 2018 auctions, the franchise also had to let go some of their key players. What message do you have for those players?
We all will miss them. Whether it’s Glenn Maxwell or Sandeep Sharma or Manan Vohra, all these players have been an integral part of Kings XI Punjab in the past and I wish them all the best for the future.
Are you happy with the overall squad for the new season?
Absolutely. It’s a very balanced squad I believe.
Your message for all those fans who are anxiously waiting to see KXIP win their maiden IPL title?
Well, I would request all the fans to cheer for us and turn in big numbers – Live Punjabi Play Punjabi. The fans are of biggest value for us.